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CJ Iftikhar forms body to curb corruption in courts

28 March, 2011

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ISLAMABAD: A two-day meeting of the National Judicial (Policy-Making) Committee (NJPMC) was held in the Conference Room of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, under the chairmanship of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of Pakistan and Chairman, National Judicial Policy Making Committee, says a press release on Sunday.

The meeting was attended by Justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed Khan, Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Chief Justice Balochistan High Court, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Chief Justice Peshawar High Court, Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Chief Justice Lahore High Court, Justice Mushir Alam, Chief Justice Sindh High Court, Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman, Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court and registrars of the Supreme Court and high courts.

The Committee reviewed the performance of the judiciary after enforcement of the National Judicial Policy, 2009, as the major thrust of the policy is on early disposal of pending cases in the superior courts as well as subordinate courts all over the country.

The courts performed well and by and large achieved the targets set for the disposal of cases. After the enforcement of the Judicial Policy, the Supreme Court, Federal Shariat Court, all high courts and district judiciary decided a total of 49,65,731 cases. During this period 45,72,690 new cases were instituted meaning thereby that the disposal figure is 3,93,041 higher than the institution, which is a outstanding achievement.

As per province-wise breakup, the Lahore High Court decided 41618 old cases (cases filed up to 31-12-2008) and 145295 new cases (cases filed on and after 01-01-2009). In the same way, the High Court of Balochistan decided 1507 old cases and 3487 new cases, Peshawar High Court decided 3390 old cases and 22412 new cases and High Court of Sindh decided 4385 old cases and 27985 of new cases. Though all the high courts remained under pressure due to shortage of judges but even then they achieved a fairly high disposal figure by working hard and sitting beyond the normal working hours.

The performance of the District Judiciary was also reviewed in the meeting. The statistics presented by the secretary NJPMC showed that the District Judiciary of all the four provinces performed very well and a substantive number of old cases have been decided after enforcement of National Judicial Policy. During the period under reference, the District Judiciary of Punjab has decided total 3611473 cases, which include 803177 old cases i.e instituted up-to 31st December, 2008. After implementation of National Judicial Policy the district courts of Balochistan have decided 71614 cases, which include 3953 old cases.

The District Judiciary Balochistan in particular did very well. It is currently poised to decide any civil or criminal case within a period of 6 to 9 months from the date of filing of a suit or complaint which is a remarkable achievement.

In the same way, the District Judiciary of Sindh had decided 423959 cases which include 84099 old cases. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the district courts decided 580884 which include 103877 old cases. The Chief Justice of Pakistan and members of the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee highly appreciated the hard work performed by the District Judiciary and praised the judges for showing good results. They also appreciated the efforts of the members of the Bar for their cooperation and support to the courts clearing for the backlog and prompt disposal of cases.

The Committee observed that the figure of disposal is quite encouraging and shows the confidence of people in the judiciary to resolve their cases and protection of their rights, which is a good omen for the nation. The Committee was of the view that the significant performance of courts has strengthened the perception of general public about the rule of law in the country. The Committee opined that the policy has worked well and proved a tool to sensitize the people regarding their rights. The Committee observed that the Policy has achieved the target of disposal of old and new cases and deficiency if any was on account of cogent reasons beyond the control of courts which include shortage of judicial officers, non submission of challans, non production of prisoners and frequent adjournments.

The Committee analyzed the situation and after taking into account the ground realities, unanimously decided to extend the period of disposal of old cases up-to 30th September, 2011. The Committee resolved that henceforth old cases will be decided by giving priority as per categorization i.e. old, older and oldest. The Committee further resolved that all cases instituted after 1st January 2009 should be decided up-to 31st March 2012. The Committee further resolved that they are conscious of the expectations of the general public from the courts and in particular the litigant parties whose cases are pending and asked the judges and lawyers to strive together to meet their expectations and decide their cases at the earliest. The chief justice of Pakistan asked the chief justices of the high courts to monitor the performance of District Judiciary regarding disposal of old cases through Member Inspection Team (MIT). It was further decided that the court should be asked to submit fortnightly reports regarding disposal of old cases.

The chief justice of Pakistan further laid stress on dispensation of justice without any discrimination and urged the judges to decide the cases in a free and impartial manner by following the laid down procedure by giving fair opportunity to litigant parties and members of the Bar to contest their cases. The chief justice of Pakistan asked the judges to ensure that while deciding cases quality of judgments should not be compromised.

The Committee also took notice of complaints of corruption against judicial officers and court staff. The meeting was briefed that the performance of the judicial officers and court staff is strictly monitored and high courts have dismissed/removed a number of judges and court staff involved in the corrupt practices. The removed/dismissed judicial officers include District & Sessions Judges, Additional District & Sessions Judges and civil judges. The Committee reiterated its commitment to show zero tolerance for corruption and asked the high courts for strict actions against the persons who had a bad reputation or has assets beyond ostensible means of income.

It was resolved that the high courts should improve the present mechanism/procedure for initiating disciplinary proceedings against corrupt/inefficient judicial officers and evolve strategy for curbing corruption in its all form and manifestations. The chief justices of the high courts were requested to supervise the functioning of Member Inspection Teams (MITs) for prompt action against the corrupt/inefficient judges/court staff.

The chief justice of Pakistan constituted a Committee of Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Chief Justice Peshawar High Court, Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman, Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court and Dr Faqir Hussain, Registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan to review the performance of Criminal District Co-ordination Committees and suggest measures for curbing corruption amongst the Para Legal Staff.

The Committee also reviewed the performance of special courts and administrative tribunals and observed that the performance of these courts is not up-to the mark and as such required to be monitored for meeting the expectations of relevant litigants.

The Committee resolved that since the National Judicial Policy is also applicable on these courts; therefore, their performance should also be monitored by the respective high courts.

During meeting the Committee also took into consideration various factors hindering the process of dispensation of justice including non-submission of challans, delays in investigations, non-production of under trial prisoners. After exhaustive deliberation, the Committee resolved that a monthly meeting of Registrars, MITs, Home Secretaries and Directors (Reclamation & Probations) should be held to monitor and improve the performance of their respective institutions in the administration of justice.

The Committee took serious note of the pathetic state of prisons and observed that the presently prisons are overcrowded and the living conditions in prisons are not conducive for reformation of convicts. The Committee observed that there is dire need for construction new jails having necessary facilities for reformation of convicts so that after release from jails they could be reintegrated in the society to play a positive role. The Committee asked the federal government to expedite the process of construction of jail for Islamabad.

Besides, the Committee also considered suggestions given by the representatives of Bar for enhancing the effectiveness of the Judicial Policy and administration of justice.

End.

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